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Clark foregoes senior season, signs with Overtime Elite League

COVINGTON, Ga. – TJ Clark announced Friday, Sept. 3, that he will be signing with the Overtime Elite League (OTE) based in Atlanta. 

In a field of 24 players who joined this year, Clark was one of the final three players to join OTE’s inaugural roster. 

Clark is a 3-star recruit and had offers from five colleges, according to 247Sports. However, he believes this is the best choice for him right now. 

“I figured, with all of the opportunities it has, it was the best decision for me at this point in my career,” Clark said. 

OTE is a sports league that offers young basketball players a alternate opportunity to reach the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

As a result of Clark joining, he will forego his senior year at Newton High School as well as college. 

But, according to Rams head coach, Charlemagne Gibbons, Clark is ready for this next step. 

“He is super competitive,” Gibbons said. “He has a desire to be a great player and is dedicated to putting in the work to achieve that.” 

Clark led the Rams last year averaging 14.2 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. Clark was also named the Newton County Player of the Year last season.

OTE highly regards the 6’4’’ shooting guard and labels Clark as a “catch and shoot specialist.”

“TJ has quietly built an accomplished resume as a standout student-athlete, where his relentlessness and drive have put him in a position to enhance his game in the OTE environment,” Brandon Williams, Head of OTE Basketball Operations stated in a press release. “He’s joining us with the right kind of chip on his shoulder, focused on continual development and proving he belongs amongst the elite.”

OTE’s purpose is to serve as an accelerant for players to reach the professional level. Each athlete will earn a guaranteed minimum salary of $100,000 per year in addition to bonuses and shares of equity in OTE. Plus, players will earn revenue from use of their name, image and likeness as well as can sign direct sponsorships with sneaker companies. 

By joining this league, Clark isn’t totally forsaking his education. 

OTE offers a direct-instruction model that focuses on life skills. Media training and financial literacy are among the few skills taught through OTE. 

As someone who has played basketball now for 15 years, Clark feels prepared for what the OTE has to offer. He’s looked up to NBA players such as Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, but it’s been the support of his family and the NHS community to help him get to this point. 

Particularly, Clark highlighted Gibbons as the person who has played the most pivotal role in his own personal development. 

Now, even though Clark is leaving high school a year early, he’s not ready to forget the lessons learned in this three-year career as a Ram. 

Clark said he’s ready to give the OTE his all in pursuit of a professional basketball career. 

“When you go to the next level, everybody has skill and can shoot and dribble,” Clark said. “It’s really about effort and being consistent every day.”